Are you wondering exactly how to use an air fryer?
Maybe you’ve just bought one, or you’re thinking about buying one?
This guide will show you how to use an air fryer safely and effectively.
Choosing An Air Fryer
If you don’t already have an air fryer, you might want to check out our complete air fryer buying guide, but in short, consider the following points;
Size – air fryers come in all sizes, suitable for all household sizes, from compact 1.5L capacity up to 9.5L.
Brand – it seems everyone is getting in on the air fryer craze. As you do your research, expect to see all the leading household names (Ninja, Philips, Tefal etc.), relatively unknown brands, and supermarket versions (Lidl and Aldi being among them).
Functions – you can get an air fryer that does just that, or you can buy more of a multi-cooker appliance with extra parts, such as one of the Ninja Foodi models or an Instant Pot.
Receiving And Setting Up Your Air Fryer
When you receive your air fryer, remove all packaging materials, stickers, or labels.
Have a read of the manufacturer’s instructions to familiarise yourself with your model; most will have quick start instructions, but as a general rule;
1. Wash all removable parts in warm, soapy water. This will likely be just the basket, but sometimes there are additional accessories such as a tray or divider. After washing, rinse them and dry them off.
2. Place your air fryer on a heat-resistant surface. It is also possible to buy a countertop protector or a silicone mat to protect your surfaces.
Ensure your air fryer is placed on a level surface with enough space around it, especially at the back where the vent will be.
3. It’s worth running your air fryer for about 5 or 10 minutes without anything in it to eliminate that new smell of some appliances.
4. Decide which recipe you want to try in your air fryer! Scroll on to find some air fryer recipes that are perfect for beginners.
How An Air Fryer Works
Air fryers circulate hot air around the food, similar to how an oven works. However, an air fryer circulates the air more quickly, resulting in faster cooking times.
In addition, the air fryer’s basket is typically small, so there is less space for the hot air to circulate. This results in more evenly cooked food.
An air fryer has a heating element and a fan that circulates hot air around the food. This combination creates a crispy, golden brown exterior without all the oil and fat of deep frying.
The Test Run – Using An Air Fryer For The First Time
Once you’ve unpacked, washed and set up your air fryer (see receiving and setting up your air fryer above), it’s time to take it for a test run!
A simple recipe to start is air fryer garlic bread or something easy that requires minimal preparation, such as one of my air fryer chicken recipes.
I know many people buy an air fryer to make chips, and it is great for making them, but I have had more people send me questions about them than any other – hopefully, they should all be answered over on my air fryer chips recipe (if not, please feel free to message me!)
Using Your Air Fryer – Step By Step
For the sake of this mini tutorial, I will walk you through making garlic bread in your air fryer, but the process is the same for any of my other air fryer recipes.
- Use a French baguette or your favourite bread (Ciabatta is also suitable for garlic bread), sliced into pieces.
- Preheat the air fryer to 180C (350F) – this should take about 3 minutes.
- Spread with garlic butter – mix about three tablespoons of butter with 3 or 4 cloves of garlic (depending on how ‘garlicky’ you like).
- Optionally sprinkle with some cheese – parmesan is a good choice.
- Place prepared garlic bread in the air fryer basket and set the timer for 3 minutes. Depending on your air fryer’s wattage and the bread’s thickness, they might be ready at 3 minutes, or they might need a further minute or 2. The garlic bread will be golden brown and crispy when they are ready.
Make sure each piece of garlic bread has space around it to allow the hot air to reach it. Otherwise, parts of the bread will remain soft or uncooked.
Depending on the size of your air fryer and how much you want to cook, you might need to cook in batches or layer up using a rack.
It’s absolutely fine to open the air fryer basket during cooking time. Most air fryers stop as soon as the basket (or lid) is opened and automatically resume when closed.
Air Fryer Recipes For Beginners
Now that you know how to use an air fryer, it’s time to get cooking. The more you experiment, the more confident you’ll become.
The beauty of an air fryer is that you can quickly check on how your food is cooking as you go along and change temperatures and times.
Here are some beginner-friendly recipes for you to try in your air fryer:
Air Fryer Chicken Breast – Chicken breast is a classic choice and can be cooked in the air fryer quickly and easily.
Air Fryer Potato Wedges – A popular air fryer recipe, potato wedges are easy to make in an air fryer with very little preparation.
Air Fryer Salmon – A healthy and delicious choice, salmon cooked in the air fryer is flaky and tender on the inside with a crispy skin on the outside.
More Air Fryer Recipes
Cleaning An Air Fryer
Cleaning your air fryer is essential to keep it in good working order and prevent any greasy build-up.
Most air fryers have dishwasher-safe parts, so the easiest way to clean them is to put all the removable parts in the dishwasher on a hot cycle. Always check the air fryer manual to ensure you only put in dishwasher-friendly pieces.
If you don’t have a dishwasher or prefer to clean by hand, the air fryer basket and tray can be washed in hot, soapy water. Avoid using abrasive cleaning materials inside or outside your air fryer, as this could damage it.
Once everything is clean and dry, put it all back together.
Common Air Fryer Questions
How do I know when my food is cooked in the air fryer?
As with any cooking method, checking that your food is cooked before serving is essential. The general rule is that if you can cook it in the oven, you can cook it in the air fryer.
To check if your food is cooked, insert a skewer or sharp knife into the thickest part. The skewer or knife should come out clean if the food is cooked. When cooking meat, use a thermometer to check if you are unsure.
Is it better to cook frozen or fresh food in the air fryer?
You can cook both frozen and fresh food in an air fryer. Frozen food will take a little longer, so check the cooking time and adjust if necessary.
Can I put oil in my air fryer?
Yes, you can spray or brush oil over ingredients in an air fryer. Adding a small amount of oil (around one teaspoon) can help to crisp up food. I don’t recommend you use any low-calorie sprays as they have been known to damage the coating on some air fryers.
How To Convert An Oven Recipe For An Air Fryer
If you have a favourite recipe that you want to cook in your air fryer, it’s easy to convert oven recipes for an air fryer.
The general rule is to reduce the cooking time by around 20% when using an air fryer. So, if a recipe says to cook in the oven for 20 minutes, cook for 16 minutes in the air fryer.
It’s also important to remember that air fryers cook food more quickly at a higher temperature, so you may need to reduce the cooking temperature slightly. For example, if a recipe says to cook at 200°C/400°F, cook at 180°C/350°F in the air fryer.
As I always say, start with an easy recipe and keep checking on it the first time you make it; adjust and record your recipe accordingly.
How Can I Get Food Crispy In An Air Fryer?
If you’re looking for a crispy finish, you can do a few things.
Firstly, ensure your ingredients are dry before cooking them; this will help them to crisp up. If you’re coating your food in breadcrumbs, make sure the breadcrumbs are pressed into the egg and flour mixture to make sure they don’t fly off.
Secondly, preheat your air fryer for a few minutes before cooking; this will help to crisp up the food.
Finally, if you’re looking for extra crunch, try adding a little oil to your ingredients before cooking them. This will help to create a crispy finish.
Can I Open The Air Fryer Basket While It Is Cooking?
You can open the air fryer basket to check on your food or shake/flip it while cooking. However, I recommend only opening it when needed so that heat doesn’t escape and cooking times aren’t affected.
Can I Use Foil In An Air Fryer?
Yes, you can use foil in an air fryer. However, ensure you don’t block the air vents, which will affect how well your food cooks.
If you’re using foil to line the air fryer basket, it’s best to use a small piece so that heat can circulate properly. You can also buy specialised air fryer liners that are made from silicone.
Is An Air Fryer Expensive To Run?
No, air fryers are very efficient and won’t increase your energy bills. They use less energy than a standard oven as they cook food more quickly.
Final Thoughts On Using An Air Fryer
I hope you’ve found this guide on how to use an air fryer helpful. If you have any tips or questions, please leave a comment below.
Happy air frying!